Among sci-fi fans the age old debate of which is better Ridley Scott’s Alien or Cameron’s Aliens is set to continue, with Prometheus – the latest offering from Scott – unlikely to dent either classic.
Alien is regarded as the more tense and atmospheric of the two with the alien design by H.R. Giger resulting in one of the most iconic creatures ever created for film. Cameron does what he does best, action, and Aliens is a no holes barred action extravaganza, taking the elements that Scott had in place and cranking them up to eleven. David Fincher took over the baton for Aliens 3 managing to make a film out of the production nightmare surrounding it but his film was seen as the weakest link until number four, 1997’s Alien: Resurrection, came along. We won’t even mention the Alien v Predator nonsense. So when word began circulating that Scott was going to direct a new Alien picture the movie world went a tiny bit ape-shit.
Rumours began at once with the general consensus being the film would focus on the giant space jockey alien that the crew came across in the first film. Scott was quick to come out and maintain the piece would be concerned with the alien world but would not necessarily be a prequel to the first movie. Hype levels were through the roof with the intense advertising campaign involving a fake TED lecture and an advertisement to purchase David (Michael Fassbender) the 8th generation android from Weyland industries whipping fans into a frenzy.
But enough of the back story and on with review. Prometheus unfortunately fails to come anywhere near the bar set by Scott’s first outing in ’79. It concerns Charlie (Logan Marshal-Green) and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), a couple of scientists searching for the origin of our creators. Having discovered wall etchings all around the world from different time periods they set off to what they hope is the location of our “engineers”. On board the spaceship Prometheus are a band of geologists, botanists and Weyland personnel with The Wire’s Idris Elba at the helm.
The Alien franchise was always about Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), a strong independent woman who can fend for herself and doesn’t need a man to come to her rescue. Here that role is split between Noomi and Charlize Theron who plays Meredith Vickers the ship’s captain. Noomi is more the caring, compassionate and idealistic half, while Theron plays the cold and calculating side ultimately only concerned with what she can gain from their mission.
Fassbender steals the show as David the android, playing it in the style of an English butler akin to Anthony Hopkins from The Remains of The Day. A poised perfectionist, he is a key role to the understanding of the film. We can ask who made us but would be horrified if the answer was simply because they could. This is the reality for David and he struggles to grasp the emotions that this stirs in his human companions.
Since John Hurt’s chest exploded in Alien, none of the sequels have come close to shock value but there is one scene here that tries its best. The new incarnations of creatures aren’t nearly as iconic as the original and you imagine that a final scene was only included to appease fanboys or those incable of putting two and two together.
A passable film in its own right but when you place it in the context of those before, it unfortunately falls short of the mark. Asking more questions than it attempts to answer and when analysed with more than a fleeting glance, the majority of them don’t hold any water.
Cameron for Prometheus 2?
USA / Directed By: Ridley Scott / Written By: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof / Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce / 124min / Action, Horror, Sci-Fi / Release: 1 June 2012 (Irl/UK), 8 June 2012 (US/Canada)